The implementation of the inter-country adoption program in the Philippines dates back in the late 60’s under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). In the 70’s, the Bureau of Family and Child Welfare handled the program until 1991 when the program was transferred to the Special Child Welfare Services Unit (SCWSU), Office of the Minister, MSSD. In 1991, the SCWSU was transformed into the Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Unit (PIAU) and operated as such for four (4) years.
In June 1995, the PIAU was abolished with the passage of Republic Act No. 8043 (RA 8043), otherwise known as the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995. Under this Act, the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) was created to act as the Central Authority in matters relating to inter-country adoption of Filipino children and as the policy making body for purposes of carrying-out the provisions of the
ICA Act of 1995.
The ICAB’s so-called “conception” took nine (9) years. It was “conceived” in 1986 during the presidency of Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino and “delivered” on June 7, 1995 under the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos with the enactment of RA 8043. RA 8043 is a landmark legislation in the field of child welfare in the Philippines. It provided the legal basis for the implementation of the Philippine inter-country adoption program.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on inter-country adoption was approved on December 26, 1995 and took effect on January 17, 1996. The IRR has undergone one amendment – on March 22, 2004 whereby the highlights included: (1) authorization and accreditation of foreign adoption agencies among the Non-Hague States; (2) provisions on failure of the physical transfer to occur, emergency intervention and reporting; and (3) disruption and termination of placements. The Board deliberated on the re- amendment of the 2004 Amended IRR and a public forum was held on May 18, 2006. It focused on inclusion of the Board’s powers and functions; authorization by the Board of a foreign adoption agency coming from a Contracting State; accreditation by the Board of a foreign adoption agency coming from a Non-Contracting State; authorized representatives of the Board to undertake authorization or accreditation; authorization or accreditation costs; and procedures for the suspension or revocation of authorization/accreditation. On March 23, 2007 the approved 2007 Amendment of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Inter- Country Adoption Law of 1995 (RA 8043) was published in two leading newspapers. The 2007 Amended IRR took effect on April 16, 2007 which better articulated the requirements and procedures of the inter-country adoption program and gave authority to the Board to charge accreditation/authorization fees.
Under RA 8043, the Board is the policy-making authority. The Board sets guidelines for the manner of selection and matching of prospective adoptive parents and verifies that a child is qualified for adoption. The Board makes the final decisions on adoption applications and matching proposals.
On January 6, 2022, Republic Act No. 11642 (RA 11642) otherwise known as the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act, was signed into law by then President Mr. Rodrigo Roa Duterte. This law re-organized ICAB into a one-stop quasi-judicial agency on alternative child care, known as the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), attached to the DSWD. Under RA 11642, all duties, functions, and responsibilities of the ICAB, the DSWD, and those of other government agencies relating to alternative child care and adoption have been transferred to NACC.
Jurisdiction of the NACC
RA 11642 gave NACC the original and exclusive jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to alternative child care, including declaring a child legally available for adoption; domestic administrative adoption; foster care under Republic Act No. 10165, otherwise known as the “Foster Care Act of 2012”; adoptions under Republic Act No. 11222, otherwise known as the “Simulated Birth Rectification Act”; and intercountry adoption under Republic Act No. 8043, otherwise known as the “Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995”. The NACC also has the authority to impose penalties in case of any violation of RA 11642 and its IRR.
Composition of the NACC
NACC is composed of a Council and a Secretariat. The Council is composed of the Secretary of the DSWD as ex officio Chairperson and six (6) other members, who are to be appointed by the President for a non-renewable term of six (6) years. The Council members are one (1) psychiatrist or psychologist, two (2) lawyers who shall have at least the qualifications of a Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge, one (1) registered social worker and two (2) representatives from NGOs engaged in child-caring or child-placing activities.
The Council is the policy-making body for purposes of carrying out the provisions of RA 11642 and formulates child welfare policies which shall constantly adjust to ongoing studies on alternative child care. En banc, it serves as the Appeals Committee for contested denials of petitions issued by the Executive Director or the Deputy Director for Services.
The Secretariat implements and executes policies on alternative child care. It is headed by an Executive Director, with the rank of an Undersecretary who shall be assisted by two (2) deputy directors, one (1) for services and one (1) for administration and finance with the rank of Assistant Secretary. The Secretariat is aided by the Child Placement Committee (CPC) which is composed of child psychiatrist or psychologist, a medical doctor, a lawyer, an adoption social worker, a representative of an NGO engaged in child welfare, and any other professionals, in the matching, accreditation of foreign adoption agencies, and resolving appeals filed by interested parties involving denials of petitions at the RACCO level, and reviewing recommendations of the RACCOs on petitions for adoption.
Functions of the NACC
The NACC shall ensure that the petitions, and all other matters involving alternative child care, including the issuance of CDCLAA, and the process of domestic and intercountry adoption, foster care, kinship care, family-like care, or residential care are simple, expeditious, and inexpensive, and will redound to the best interest of the child involved.
Towards this end, the NACC Council shall act as the policy-making body and when convened as such, as an en banc appeals committee for contested denials of petitions issued by the Executive Director or the Deputy Director for Services, while the NACC Secretariat shall be responsible for the following key functions:
Act and resolve petitions for the issuance of CDCLAA as provided under RA 11642;
Regional Alternative Child Care Office (RACCO)
NACC also has counterparts in the different regions nationwide known as the Regional Alternative Child Care Office (RACCO) which is headed by a RACC Officer. The RACCO is tasked to ensure a well-functioning system of receipt of local petitions for CDCLAA and adoption, applications for foster care, and other requests regarding alternative placement and well-being of children.
The RACCO shall have dedicated personnel who shall exclusively handle each of the following:
There shall be a Regional Child Placement Committee (RCPC) in each RACCO which shall be supervised by the RACC officer. It shall be composed of a multidisciplinary group including a child psychiatrist or psychologist, a medical doctor, a member of the Philippine Bar, an adoption social worker, and a representative of an NGO involved in child welfare.